9 Mar 2001
THE DEPARTING GENERATION
If you go to Douala International airport, the number of young people flocking out of the country will amaze you. They are heading for destinations far and wide and are using all types of travelling documents fake and genuine. Some poor families have virtually gone bankrupt in the process of raising money for these children to go abroad. In most cases both departing children and parents do not know anything about the country of destination nor do they care. Their priority is to assist their loved ones escape from what they perceive as ‘hell’ in Cameroon. Judging from what is happening to youths in this country, you cannot blame people who think this way.
When growing up as a kid, dubious politicians constantly remind you that the future of the nation is in your hands. As you grow through adolescence to adulthood, you continue to hear the same empty slogans from the same people. On the other hand your parents toil day and night to ensure that you acquire some academic qualification or some kind of skills. The proverbial future becomes more and more elusive. You soon find yourself approaching thirty and still unemployed. Worse still, the same politicians are still there, getting older but not retiring to give way to the youths. They keep on shuffling and rotating themselves from one post to another and annoy you the more by constantly repeating the dreaded slogan. If you consider that life expectancy in this country is 48 and is falling. If you consider that you are not too far from that age and yet you have nothing material to show for your existence on earth, it becomes understandable why you should take desperate measures. Frustration is driving many kids into exile. It is unfortunate that our children will prefer a refugee status in Europe than being free citizens in Cameroon. It is even more embarrassing that this is happening to children from a country that is both rich and stable.
Young people in Cameroon are having a very rough time. They grow in the midst of natural abundance but they cannot understand why society cannot integrate them into the economy. They are made to understand that you need a godfather to get a job. They know that even if you are employed, you need not aspire for certain positions because they are the preserve of some privileged people. You experience discrimination and outright injustice as you go about your daily chores. You have few positive things and many negative things to learn from elders and society at large. Talk about bribery, corruption, lying, gambling and other vices; Cameroon is a giant school to acquire these skills. The adage that hard work is the key to success is fast loosing its meaning in Cameroon. The richest people around are those civil servants whose duty posts allow them to extort money with impunity from the rest of the citizens. They spend this money with reckless abandon under the watchful eyes of the deprived youths. There are also ‘feymen’ who steal with tricks and spend their loot ostentatiously and openly.
It is this unfortunate atmosphere reigning in Cameroon that seems to convince hardworking and straight kids that they do not have any future in this country- hence the exodus. This nation seems to be built on a foundation of injustice and fraud. Honest people have become endangered specie. That is why we lack people to manage our immense resources in such a way as to make the future of children meaningful. While we ponder, the haemorrhagic exodus continues.
Copyright ã March 2001 by Njei Moses Timah
Njei Moses Timah [e-mail]